Apr 20 2012 8:02am

H&H Book Club: Karen Marie Moning’s Beyond the Highland Mist: Final Thoughts?

If you’ve stuck with H&H’s April Book Club Choice, Karen Marie Moning’s Beyond the Highland Mist, you have likely finished the book and, perhaps, have an opinion as to the outcome of Adrienne and Hawk’s passion-filled romance.

For the first book, we chose a romance with a Scottish hero, but we also got time travel, medieval, and paranormal.

Readers of Moning’s Fever series can see the antecedents for both Mac and Barrons here—Adrienne is stubborn, quick to make decisions, feisty, and unable to resist a compelling man. Hawk is large, gorgeous, also stubborn, proud, and laid low by his immediate attraction to Adrienne.

What sustained me throughout the reading of the book was Moning’s use of descriptions—medieval Scotland really seemed to come alive through her words, and it made some of the other over-the-topness more palatable.

Perhaps my favorite part is at the end, when Hawk is attempting to bind Adam Black, and has spent weeks writing the exact precise language he has to use to make sure the Fae doesn’t wriggle out of the deal.

“Did you write a goddamn book? You can’t do it like this,” Adam said through gritted teeth. “You get one command. You can’t read that whole thing.”


“I said give it up, you infantile, mewling mass of mortality. It won’t work.”

“...and you will never...” Hawk continued.

Hawk reads a long, very complicated document without stopping, even though he is interrupted by Adam, Adrienne’s return, and the Fairy Queen herself.

Once Hawk and Adrienne are back together, Adrienne needs to find out what has intrigued readers of Scottish historicals since the genre began: Do our heroes wear anything under their kilts? (Although one would think she might’ve found that out earlier in the book, to be honest, given their mad frolicking.

“Nothing beneath this plaid, just as I suspected,” she observed pertly.

“Adrienne. You’re killing me.”

“I’ve only just begun, my love.” She wrapped her fingers around his magnificent arousal and slipped her hand up and down his shaft with a velvety friction.

Did you finish it? What did you think? If you didn’t finish it, why not? All comments welcome!

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Megan Frampton
1. MFrampton
Okay, I'll start:

I rolled my eyes many times during the course of the book. Not that I didn't like reading it, it was fun, but it was just so overblown and purple prose-ish. I felt Hawk fell in love with Adrienne way too quickly, I didn't like what I saw as the artificially contrived black moment, and I didn't ever get a feel for the characters beyond their physical attributes: Gorgeous and gorgeouser.
I did like seeing the seeds of the Fever series, which I adored, and so that was an interesting reading exercise.
2. wsl0612
@MFrampton - I'm with you! I had too much eye rolling and had to stop fully reading about 2/3 of the way through. I skimmed to the end so I could at least find out what happened. KMM is a very good writer (and by that I mean she knows how to string words together, join scenes, fill in background, etc) but I wasn't fond of her character building skills in this book. If I hadn't already read the Fever series before I read this I probably wouldn't have picked them up. I really disliked Adrienne and just couldn't get interested in Hawk.
Elizabeth Halliday
3. Ibbitts
I like to read this kind of book because of the unrealistic aspect of it. I like the way Moning describes the characters and the locations; I can easily see them in my mind. This book was fun. I enjoyed just relaxing and being entertained by the story.
Kristin O
4. krismas29
I couldn't finish it. I really wanted to like it because I loved the Fever series, but I found the characters so cliched as to be almost cartoonish.

I agree with @wslo612, I am glad I read the Fever series first or I would not have picked it up given my reaction to this book.
Lynnette Kirk
5. LynnetteKirk
Though the characters frustrated me at times I did enjoy re-reading this book. I did want to reach through the pages and knock Adrienne and Hawk on the head a few time. Adreenne for her stubborness at not following her feelings and Hawk for not having more faith in the person he is supposed to love. Regardless of these issues, I alway enjoy the light reading that is provided by this type of romance. You don't have to think just enjoy the words.
I finished it too. There were a lot of snort-worthy situations, for sure, but it was was a quick, fluffy read that made it more about fun than substance :)

I've yet to read the Fever series, but it's definitely on the to do list. I'm looking forward to the comparison now.
Cathy Sprouse
7. csprouse
You know, I read this book along with rest of the series years ago. I found the whole series very entertaining and enjoyable to read. Now it is very different than most of the books you will read today but the overall background and personalites were very well done. I read to get away from my daily life and this series did just that. Adrienne and Hawk gave me hours of fun and enjoyment. I still have my books and will keep them to read again.
Marian DeVol
9. ladyengineer
I'm with @Lynnette and @seolmara. Although there were some frustrating parts to it (Adrienne's character flaws, Adam's single minded pursuit of revenge, etc.), I liked the book for the most part as fairly well written fluff. Being heavily involved in local Scottish culture, I enjoyed the detailed descriptions of the countryside.
rachel sternberg
10. rae70
I loved it, read the series years ago and it was pure fluff! You can definately see the set up for the fever series and meeting some of the characters was fun.
Robbie Thornton
11. Button
I loved it...again. This is an old favorite of mine, fluff and all. After reading this series, I read The Host by Moning, and loved it. I read the first book in the Fever series and liked it well enough but not enough to continue the series. I might have to revisit those.
Vanessa Ouadi
12. Lafka
OK folks, I’ve read the book and here comes a loooooong review. You’ve been warned ;)
There are many elements that should have made me dislike the book.
First of all, I’m not into Scotland-set romance, I’m not into early modern history, I’m not into time travel stories, and I’m not into fantasy romance ; so I was kind of prejudiced against the book before even reading it.
After reading it, some elements stroke me as not likeable.
Remember when we talked about annoying characters that should leave the book, not so long ago? Well, both the hero and the heroine present some typically annoying features :
o The heroine has sworn off men, especially if they’re good looking, but can’t help drooling over the hero _ and who can blame her, given that…
o The hero is universally (and that word is to be taken literally) considered the most astonishingly beautiful man ever to grace the earth and the most talented lover and is sought after for a quick romp or a lifetime engagement by basically every female on the planet (please note I didn’t precise “human female”, his glorious sex appeal not being limited to his own kind). This can be explained since…
o The hero is hung like a stallion (again, literally) and suffers the Agonizing Boner of Pain (©KateNagy) every time he looks at his wife, who of course is…
o An “earth-shatteringly” beautiful, yet virgin, heroine, with “perfect face” and “perfect body” and “wit and wisdom to boot”. Yes, yes, the Ms Perfect to Mr Perfect, everything is perfect (including the castle they live in).
That was a bit too much perfection for my taste _ I would have preferred a flaw or two from time to time. Oh well, I suppose the “king’s whore” stuff and the “I killed the dirty bastard I was engaged to who turned out to be using me as a mule for his drug dealing activities and who made my life hell before trying to actually kill me” plot were supposed to be the flaws of the H/H. But let’s face it, they’re not. If possible, they make the H/H even more perfect, because he would do everything to protect his loved ones, and she is such an innocent, naïve, damsel in distress, how could the hero (and the reader) not want to protect her?
Beyond the characters, the plot wasn’t what you may call transcendent. The entire story is based on a fairy nutcase who, to take revenge on the man his Queen has called beautiful, takes a woman back from 20st century to 1513’s Scotland, so that the said man will fall in love with the said woman, who will break his heart. Uh… for someone who has so many magical powers, isn’t that a bit of a plain scheme? Not to mention that the scheme will fail, because obviously when you put two perfect people together you can’t expect much but them falling for each other, now can you? Of course, they don’t fall immediately _ hum, well the hero does fall hard and fast for the heroine, but she puts on some resistance, having sworn off men, and all. But their little tango doesn’t fool anyone, they’ll definitely fall for each other _ and they’re already married, so they’ve done half the way. What I mean is, the plot was both quite unbelievable and predictable. Even the “dramatic events”, supposed to disrupt the blooming love-story, are predictable. So long for surprising the reader…

Last, I was a little perplexed by all the Shakespearian references, since the story takes place before Shakespeare was even born. First, obviously all the plot revolving around the fairy queen, her king and the Puck remind us of the A Midsummer Night’s Dream protagonists. Second, some lines from Shakespeare’s work are quoted: one of his sonnets is quoted by the heroine when she first meets the hero, and at the end of the book the hero clearly says that “something wicked this way comes”. I guess Karen Marie Moning wants to tell us that the H/H love story and confrontation with the fairy world have given some inspiration to Shakespeare, given that the hero at the end of the book hires minstrels to tell how he’s outfoxed the fox and makes sure word of his victory upon the Black Elf spread in all Great-Britain. But still, that was a little bit confusing.

And yet (because yes, there’s a yet), I did enjoy the book through and through. The writing style of KMM was good enough to make me overlook the disturbing elements and prevented me from putting the book down once started. The funny moments are funny, the sweet moments are moving, it all worked out pretty well for me! I really liked the secondary characters for instance, all very interesting and amusing. Some scenes just made me swoon. The hero made me swoon (obviously, his glorious sex appeal works even through the pages of a book) _ I mean, the man built an entire nursery, with baby beds and toys and a dollhouse, out of wood, with his own two hands! Who wouldn’t swoon for that? Pfew.
It doesn’t happen to me very often, and I’d have a hard time explaining the reasons why, but, despite all the elements that bothered me, and even if my eyes rolled more than a few times, I did like the book and I’m looking forward to reading book #2. I mean, this was my first Karen Marie Moning's book but if she is a good enough author to make me enjoy a book I shouldn’t have enjoyed, I really wonder what she could to with characters/plot/background I’m fond of.
Megan Frampton
13. MFrampton
Thanks for the lengthy comment, especially since you use the phrase "fairy nutcase." I think you might like the Fever series, for sure, since you haven't read her before--that is a stupendous series (in my opinion, of course).
Vanessa Ouadi
14. Lafka
@Megan : You're not the first one to recommand KMM's Fever series, I think I'll give it a try whenever I'll find the time to :)
Jonetta Allen
15. Jonetta/Ejaygirl
I read KMM's Fever series first and was drawn to this one because some of the characters from this series showed up there. I listened to this as an audiobook, which gives you a different experience with the right narrator. Phil Gigante does an EXCELLENT job...except with Adrienne. She's annoying without a narrator and he made her almost unbearable.

I enjoyed the story, the bawdy humor and actually liked Hawk. This one is pretty light fare compared to the rest of the books in the series but I was well entertained. I'm listening to the last full length book of the series now and can say this has been a good experience. It doesn't reach the complexity of the Fever series but it doesn't fail either.
16. LisaG
I love everything that KMM writes, and she's only gotten better over time. I remember reading an interview with her and she commented on Hawk and Adrienne's story. She said that she was disappointed in the outcome because it wasn't the book she wanted to write, and that she was at the mercy of the publishers and their formula. Once she was more established, she was allowed to write the stories as she conceived them to be. Of course, we now have the awesomeness of her later highlander books, and the culmination of her wonderful writing in the fabulous Fever series. Long live Mac and Barrons!
Jonetta Allen
17. Jonetta/Ejaygirl
@LisaG Thanks for that insight. Her storytelling was so different from the third or fourth book in this series and the Fever series.
18. Zazoo1137
OMG I adore this book. I've read it over and over. I love these characters. Loved Hawke and his vulnerablity. He just wanted love and a home. Thats why he fell for Adrienne so fast. She didnt know anything about his reputation and she didnt look at him and want to have sex him like the other women of Court. He felt used and dirty. He wanted nothing to do with what he had to contend with being the "Kings Whore"

Normally I loathe characters that are promiscuis. Male leads may have more than one lover. Only until he meets his HEA. Then no more sniffing around any where else. So I wasnt sure how I was going to like that theme, Hawke sleeping with all these women because the King decreed it. It made me think he was going to be weak willed. But no, it was nothing like that. He was trying to protect his home and people.
Yes it was a little tiny bit corny at times but the story was just wonderful. The part when Adrienne rode off with Adam and Hawke just went mad. Later tearing the nursery to shreds. The nursery he had so lovingly built. Broke my heart.

Oh and the scene when Hawke is reading the whole contract and Adam finally sees a way to make him faulter by slyly flashing Adrienne in front of him and Hawke sees that she is with his child, he nearly loses it then.
I love all Karens books!
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